When we panic, we tend to fall back on old patterns and routines that may have worked for us as children, but which no longer serve us now that we are adults. These habits kick in without us even realizing, and they limit our choices, robbing us of autonomy. We are operating out of fear. It takes getting back in touch with who we are, learning to honor that person, and seeking out support to get healthy again. But we may find that our environment, particularly when it comes to work, does not support our goals for ourselves. Our jobs might even directly impede with what we’re doing.
On this topic, Anne Wilson Schaef writes:
“We have been hearing more and more about unhealthy buildings and their effect upon our lives. However, as many of us begin our recovery and start to take better care of ourselves, we discover that our workplaces not only do not support our quest to become healthier, they actively interfere with it.
We find ourselves feeling frightened and overwhelmed. Are we going to have to give up our jobs to be healthy? Are we going to have to give up our journey into health in order to maintain our jobs? Neither option is too attractive.
Luckily, we do not have to make either of these choices today. We do need to get support for our journey toward health, however. Hopefully, there are possibilities for this support within and outside of the work setting. Support is crucial for becoming more whole.”
Support takes many forms, from friends and family who care about us, to therapy, to peers who share in our experiences, to medication in some cases, to a workplace that supports a healthy work-life balance, and one which encourages us to take time off to focus on our mental health. Regardless of the types of support in our own lives, the fact remains that it is essential if we are to be successful in our journey back to health.
Workplaces unfortunately can often be toxic. This toxicity is in direct conflict with our goal to be healthy. We might be expected to work ungodly hours, to sacrifice our personal time on nights and weekends, to never take time off away from work. While many companies may preach work-life balance, few actually employ people who demonstrate those values. I have worked with many people who swore up and down that they prioritize work-life balance, yet these same people could be found working at 11 o’clock at night, on weekends, even on holidays and their vacation time. Their words said one thing, yet their actions said another entirely. It is often the example we set, and not the advice we give, that others heed. I lived by my value of work-life balance, but I always felt a certain sense of guilt about it at previous companies. Now I am fortunate to have an employer who practices what they preach when it comes to this.
Part of honoring oneself is knowing what matters to us and making that a priority. We must seek out the support we need in order to be successful in doing so. Our choices must reflect our values as well, and it’s time we choose ourselves first for once. An important part of that is recognizing when we are in a panic. Usually that’s when we are about to act out of fear. Instead, we can slow down and choose a different path.